Cape Town – Interested parties including Wesgro and the provincial government have slammed the Tourism Amendment Act, saying it could damage the sector in Cape Town.
“Wesgro is working with the Western Cape government on providing comment on the bill. This process is still ongoing.
“The tourism sector in the Western Cape supports over 300 000 jobs, contributing tens of billions of rand to the provincial economy. Our top priority will be to ensure that the sector continues to thrive, so that even more people can access opportunities in the province.
“We will not support regulations that do not achieve this objective,” said Wesgro chief executive Tim Harris.
In April the government published the Tourism Amendment Bill for public comment. Should it be signed into law, short-term home rentals will be regulated under the Tourism Act. The minister of tourism could then specify various “thresholds” in terms of Airbnb rentals.
This could include limiting the number of nights guests can stay or how much money an Airbnb host can earn.
According to the department of tourism, this would level the playing field by ensuring “everyone gets their fair share”.
Echoing calls to regulate ride-share platform Uber, which has disrupted the taxi industry worldwide, local tourism industry players have long called for Airbnb to be regulated.
The Federated Hospitality Association of SA argues that unregistered accommodation establishments marketed via Airbnb should be under the same regulations that are applied to the official tourism sector.
Cape Town Tourism chief executive Enver Duminy said that the bill in its current form suggests that the tourism minister may have the power to put in place regulations.
The Cape Chamber of Commerce & Industry said it hoped the latest amendments would not cost visitors more. President Geoff Jacobs said: “We would encourage regulations that will improve the tourism experience and help the industry grow. We do not want regulations that will increase costs for visitors. We are strongly opposed to red tape that will create an administrative burden for Airbnb and B&B operators.”
Estate agents have also voiced their concerns. Natalie Muller, Seeff rental manager for the City Bowl, said: “The Airbnb industry has taken quite a knock because of the water restrictions and security issues of homeowners not letting the body corporate know that they are renting out their home.
Airbnb said: “We support clear and progressive rules that support the sustainable growth of home sharing and are having productive discussions with the government on measures to help hosts share their homes, follow the rules and pay their fair share of tax.”